The Midsouth Educational Research Association (MSERA) will be hosting their annual meeting in Pensacola on November 6-8th, 2013. I’ll be speaking about my research on gaming as an instructional strategy for young children and effective online communication for higher education. In addition, I will present a poster session on TESOL’s Electronic Village Online (EVO) to share how my other professional organization trains English language teachers worldwide for free through a volunteer network and online collaborative processes.
Here’s the conference program. This is a relatively inexpensive conference in comparison to the national ones. For example, nonmember rates are $150 for professionals and $90 for students the day of the event. Of course it’s best to become a member (or to preregister).
Here is my schedule of presentations and poster sessions: ( Note: The links will take you to my PowerPoints on SlideShare.)
I just uploaded a new product that incorporates gaming as an instructional strategy. I used Halloween vocabulary and images to capture young children’s interest. Students can practice syllabification, reading, storytelling, and vocabulary when playing these games! This product contains directions and material for four different types of games to use during literacy centers: clapping out the syllables, vocabulary battle game, vocabulary flashcards, and storytelling. Each game would last 30 minutes, which is about the same amount of time segment in group rotation in a 2-hour literacy block.
This product includes the following items:
a game scorecard;
a paper candy reward system;
24 different game cards with the vocabulary word, image, and the number of syllables, and
24 vocabulary cards without the name or syllable count for testing purposes.
Vocabulary includes basic words like bat and hat, as well as multisyllabic ones like Halloween and October. I suggest printing the vocabulary on card stock and laminating them prior to use. I think students are really going to enjoy these activities. Hopefully, they will want to play them multiple times to become very familiar with the content vocabulary. I also suggest having the students create their own games and corresponding rules.
Here’s a sample game:
#2A: Vocabulary Battle Game: The objective of the game is to correctly read the word for each card drawn.
Learning Objective: Students will practice reading words correctly.
Game Rules: This game can be played with 2-4 players.
Step 1: Place vocabulary cards face down in a stack.
Step 2: Player 1 takes a card and tries to read it. Then he shows it to the other players to get feedback (correct or incorrect). If the student reads it correctly, then they keep the card. If not, then the card is placed in the “trash” pile to be reused.
Step 3: Player 2 repeats this action.
Step 4: After all the face down cards have been read, shuffle the deck of discarded cards to continue the game. The player with the most cards wins. Students redeem cards for candy or other reward at the end of the game.
Visit my store on TeachersPayTeachers to purchase this product! I plan to do the same gaming products based on content vocabulary for each holiday.
I’d like to share my schedule of face-to-face workshops that I’ll be giving this school year. I work at the Innovation in Learning Center (ILC) at the University of South Alabama. They host ongoing professional development workshops for faculty and staff for online teaching. I work for the ILC as a graduate research assistant. My work includes designing, developing, and delivering professional development to faculty to support student learning. If you live in the Mobile area and work at an institution of higher education, you are welcome to attend one of these workshops. Additionally, graduate students in instructional design and development at USA can attend, as long as they register in advance. There are many more listed at the ILC website.
My 2013-2014 Training Schedule at the ILC:
Making Instructional Videos with Camtasia Relay: Innovation in Learning Center, University of South Alabama, 9/6/13
How to Make Your Online Course Accessible: Innovation in Learning Center, University of South Alabama, 9/19/13
Sakai 101: Gradebook, Tests & Quizzes: Innovation in Learning Center, University of South Alabama, 9/20/13
Sakai 101: Gradebook, Tests & Quizzes: Innovation in Learning Center, University of South Alabama, 10/11/13
Making Instructional Videos with Camtasia Relay: Innovation in Learning Center, University of South Alabama, 10/23/13
Emergent Technologies: Innovation in Learning Center, University of South Alabama, 10/30/13
Sakai 101: Gradebook, Tests & Quizzes: Innovation in Learning Center, University of South Alabama, 12/3/13
Sakai 101: Communication Tools: Innovation in Learning Center, University of South Alabama, 12/12/13
Sakai 101: Gradebook, Tests & Quizzes: Innovation in Learning Center (ILC), University of South Alabama (USA), 12/18/13
Making Instructional Videos with Camtasia Studio, ILC, USA, 2/3/14
How to Make Your Online Course Accessible: ILC, USA, 3/31/14
iClickers, ILC, USA, 4/15/14
Sakai 101: Gradebook, Tests & Quizzes: ILC, USA, 5/30/14
I’m interested in researching well-designed educational gaming for use in the elementary classroom, particularly computer-assisted language learning. The reason being is that elementary education and second language acquisition are my areas of expertise. I hope to incorporate gaming theory and design into my knowledge base as an instructional designer. There is so much potential for optimizing learning in the elementary classroom with the use of well-designed educational games.
I acknowledge the difficulty of conducting research in the classroom, so I would focus on the phenomenology (qualitative research) of elementary teachers reflections on gaming as an instructional strategy. One of my professors mentioned the idea of getting feedback from primary school teachers enrolled in the various education programs at the university. I plan to use the mixed methods approach. I found literature on the correlation of Gagne’s (1985) nine events of instruction and gaming as an instructional strategy (Becker, 2008).
Currently, research on the effectiveness of educational gaming with children is scarce (Thai, Lowenstein, Ching, & Rejeski, 2009). Nonetheless, there are some great literature reviews like the one completed byThe Joan Ganz Gooney Center at Sesame Workshop (Thai et al., 2009). Also, Reiber, Barbour, Thomas, and Rauscher (2008) found no statistical significance in their literature review comparing gaming and traditional learning; however, they stated that this is par for the course with any new educational technology compared with traditional learning.
For now, I’m conducting literature reviews on gaming as an instructional strategy with young children.
Becker, K. (2008). Video game pedagogy: Good games = Good pedagogy.In C. T. Miller (Ed.), Games: Purpose and potential in education (pp. 73-122).NY: Springer.
Gagné, R. M. (1985). The conditions of learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.
Reiber, L. P., Barbour, M.K, Thomas, G. B., & Rauscher, D. (2008) Learning by designing games: Homemade PowerPoint games. In C. T. Miller (Ed.), Games: Purpose and potential in education (pp 23-40). NY: Springer.
Thai, A. M., Lowenstein, D., Ching, D., & Rejeski, D. (2009). Game changer: Investing in children’s play to advance children’s learning and health. New York: The Joan Ganz Gooney Center at Sesame Workshop.
Note: This anecdote was written several years ago when I was teaching school in California.
I’d just pulled up to school in East Los Angeles when I heard the radio announcement about the attack on the World Trade Center. Within seconds, I realized my nephew who worked there might have lost his life. I went to sign in and ended up crying in the office. The assistant principal pulled me into her office and explained that her daughter was at the Pentagon and that it’d been hit as well. She appeared calm and professional as always. She told me to make a decision on whether to go home or stay and teach. I don’t have a family of my own, so I decided to stay and teach my first grade students.
There was a rumor around school that more planes were headed to Los Angeles. The planes that hit the World Trade Center were outbound flights for Los Angeles International Airport. Our large inner city school was located directly below the heavy incoming flight plans for LAX. In fact, when the government cleared the skies of all planes, walking across the schoolyard became surreal. In times of natural disasters or emergencies, teachers become the wards for the students until their parents can pick them up. I went to teach class and defend my students and school from harm.
The rumor was so strong that our principal went missing and was later reported to have locked herself in a closet. School functioned without her. A few parents came to pick up their children. I remember starting the day off by showing a map of the United States to my class. I wanted them to understand how far away the attacks were to help them feel less anxious. They had many misconceptions of what was going on fueled by the fact that they were limited English speakers. For example, they thought the continuous instant replay on television that morning of the second plane going into the tower was actually many planes not just one. Being fluent in Spanish, I was able to translate the basic information on the attacks.
Students were allowed outside for recess, and I headed to the teacher break room to make a few calls to learn about my nephew’s whereabouts. Someone had pulled a TV into the break room, and teachers were watching the latest news about the attacks. I learned that my nephew was alive because he went to work late. He was just getting out of a cab when the first plane hit. He fled Manhattan on foot along with the mass exodus. My nephew escaped physical harm, but he bears the burden of witnessing a heinous crime against humanity.
In the classroom, we discussed what was going on in New York. Unfortunately, some of my students had seen graphic images of people jumping to their deaths on the Spanish news channel that morning. It was very hard not to cry in front of them. I had to be strong, so they could feel safe. I didn’t tell the students about the rumors nor explain what an attack of this magnitude would mean to our country and the world. East Los Angeles is a tough neighborhood. Its teachers are prepared for earthquakes, lock downs, and multiple casualties. As a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I have more survival skills than the average person. However, I didn’t know how to prepare for war. Fortunately, no harm came to us.
The day after 9-11, the Los Angeles Times printed images of people jumping out of the twin towers of World Trade Center. The images on television news coverage kept me in tears for weeks, as more information was given on the attacks. It sent me into a depression for several months. The summer after 9-11, I visited my nephew in Manhattan and saw Ground Zero. The makeshift memorial wall was still up with faded images of the missing. Fresh notes were messages to those who were missed on their birthdays and anniversaries. I photographed the memorial to share with future students in the classroom.
What is it? Pixlr is a free editing software program that allows you to modify or enhance images. There are three levels: playful, efficient, and advanced. It’s similar to other photo editing services like Google’s Picasa, Adobe Photoshop, or Window’s Gimp.
How can I use it in my course? Use Pixlr to add interesting visual imagery, provide cues, or add a personal touch to your online course. For example, adding a photo of yourself to your syllabus or instructor bio provides teacher presence in online environments.
How do I get started? Go to Pixlr.com.You do not need to create an account to use it. Begin at your level of expertise.Upload a photo from your desktop and start editing.It’s fairly intuitive.
Save image to desktop or jumpdrive if you’re not planning on logging in.
The Text feature only allows you to select the font. You will need to resize the text box in order to change the font size.
The Stickers feature is a great way to add whimsy to your image!
Open Pixlr editor (Advance) has almost the same amount of features as Photoshop.
You can make collages that look professional with the Collage tool.
The mobile app is available at the App Store but is a bit cumbersome.
I forgot to mention that it’s a lot of fun!
P.S. I presented this as part of a series of technology teasers for the USA Learning Academy this summer at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. See my instructor training guide for the workshop utilizing Gagne’s 9 events of instruction.
The following personal reflection on the educational advantages and disadvantages to SecondLife (SL) are based on a single-user’s online experience. In the era of massively multiplayer role-playing games where participants interact in-world in groups (study hall, computer lab, or arcade) as well as online, the following advantages could increase and the disadvantages could decrease.
Disadvantages to SL include the requirements for high-end technical hardware and a specific skill set that can only be learned within the virtual environment (VE). I advocate for the education of the masses in accordance with Paolo Freire. Because SL requires a certain bandwidth capability and computer graphic cards for participation, this creates a barrier for some students.
Second, the skill set to function in SL can only be found in this environment, so there is little opportunity to transfer previous knowledge. Perhaps there are games that have the same functions that would make this possible. SL requires learning by trail and error, which hinges on the motivation and personality of a learner. I’m an adventurer type (global learner), so I don’t mind trying and failing. However, from experience as an educator, not all student have the same will or ease. For instance, an analytical learner would need lots of demonstration videos and the rules prior to login. Therefore, learning preferences should be considered in VEs.
On the other hand, the advantages for SL and other VEs are tremendous. Some benefits include accessibility for persons otherwise unable to participate fully in the real world. The affordances lend themselves to learning various content in authentic environments, and the opportunity to unite people. SL provides for the following accessibility requirements: text chat, language translations, audio, written descriptions of venues, and remote controlled avatars.
I’m unsure if all SL venues provide alternative text, but I did see a lot instructions provided at the locations I visited. For example, at a dance floor, a floating ball provided instructions to click the ball and a menu of dance moves appeared. I’d hope that the JAWS (Job Aid With Speech) screen reader would be able to read it for persons requiring that accommodation. I haven’t done any research on the accessibility of SL specifically. I learned from research on accessibility that text within images in MS Word cannot be read by JAWS like the speech bubbles, so I’m unsure if the directions can be read by adaptive technologies like JAWS.
The affordance of trying new skills in a simulated environment, especially if that skill may be a dangerous one in real life, is a great advantage. In a HealthWorkforce Australia document (Walsh, 2010), the use of VEs was proposed as instrumental for education in dentistry:
“A virtual world which is used at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry exposes students to exercises in diagnosing complicated problems, which in
turn eliminates the use of live patients in a risky environment. Such VW are especially useful during the first half of the curriculum when students are inexperienced in patient
care (p. 15).”
SL provides unique and varied opportunities for gatherings. For example, the Veterans Administration set up an office where veterans can visit and learn about their benefits in SL. Another example is how IBM uses SL to meet virtually with its administrators worldwide. IBM said this environment was much more appealing than teleconferences between boardrooms. I’m a positive thinker, so I believe the opportunities are endless as long as you have the necessary equipment, VE skill set, and motivation. For more information, read my previous post on the use of SL for educational purposes.
“The more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled.― Paulo Freire